Thursday, August 27, 2009
Growing up my family loved to go canoeing. We spent countless Sabbath afternoons floating down the Hampton River in Virginia looking for wildlife. Just about every summer we would make the trip up to the family camp in Maine where all of the aunts, uncles, and cousins canoed down the Little Androscoggin River with our grandparents. I’ve been in Memphis for four years and still go up to Maine every summer for a father-daughter camp & canoe weekend. But I’ve never been canoeing in Memphis and being a transplant never thought that the two went together. So when my co-worker, Classic Hits 94.1 FM WKQK’s Brad Carson, invited me to join him for the Wolf River Conservancy’s Media Canoe Trip down the Ghost River Trail, I jumped at the chance. The WRC works to conserve and enhance the Wolf River corridor and its watershed as a sustainable natural resource. Believe it or not, the Memphis Sands—located on the Wolf River—are the source of Memphis’s drinking water. We met up at the Bateman Road Bridge parking area and were then shuttled to our special launch point. The standard Ghost River trip is a 9 mile ride from La Grange to the Bateman Road Bridge. But in their infinite wisdom, the WRC let us launch from their private site which cut the trip down to 4 miles and would take us through several different eco-systems including swamp, lake, and marshland sections. According to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s website “The Ghost River section of the Wolf River received its name from the loss of river current as the water ‘flows’ through open marshes and bald cypress-water tupelo swamps. Blue trail markers show the way for paddlers through the disorienting maze of willow, cypress, tupelos, and stunted pumpkin ash.”
The entrance to the Ghost River Trail didn’t look like much and if it were not for the blue markers I would’ve sworn we were going the wrong way and a dead end was just around the corner. There were some tight turns, but Brad and I made it through into the marsh and swamp areas. We made several pit stops along the way to learn the history of the Wolf River. Since I hope that someday you will take a guided trip on the Wolf River, I won’t spoil the stories for you but will tell you that Davy Crockett pops up. One of the most beautiful sections of the trail was Spirit Lake. It is here that you realize the vastness of nature. We could have spent hours just taking it all in. But since we were in a group—near the back, but still with the group—we trekked on to our dinner spot on the beach. A veggie wrap perked me up while Brad enjoyed the sesame chicken. We both thought a second helping of the brownies was just what we needed to finish up the final mile of the trip.
If I was on my own, I probably would've gone to the right and wrote this off as a dead end. Now I know better.
These little blue markers were a big help. They were on almost every tree when you first enter the Ghost River Canoe Trail.
Monday, August 03, 2009
While this was a very busy and productive weekend for me with my first joint Sabbath School presentation, the MJA work bee, and finishing up my third Creating for Charity scarf, I am a bit saddened that I wasn't able to go up to Boston this weekend to see my grandparents honored. In recognition of their years of ministry service--well over 5 decades--their church is sending them on a vacation to Casablanca, Morocco. They lived in Morocco during the first years of their marriage and haven't been back since. They were truly amazed, shocked, and thankful to their church family. I'm a bit jealous that I'm not able to go with them! Below is the ministry bio that my mom wrote up for the service. It is a blessing to be a part of this family.PS. Here's a look at finished scarf #3. It's the longest one I've done--used about 300 yards of yarn--and took just over a week.
The Poirier’s pastoral ministry spans a journey of approximately 50 years in the Southern New England Conference area. It’s an unlikely story; beginning with a young altar boy at St. Leo’s Catholic Church in Leominster, Ma, who eventually, through the influence of his Christian wife, Lois, became a Seventh-day Adventist minister and chaplain.
Lois and Leo met at the Whalom Park Roller Skating Rink when they were teenagers, and Leo had just joined the Navy as a Communications Technician. They continued a courtship by mail and saw each other occasionally when Leo returned home on leave. Though their religious backgrounds differed, they were both dedicated Christians, each trying to convert the other to their own church. In spite of obstacles, they were married in 1950, each still praying for the other’s change of faith. Leo was assigned to the Naval base in French Morocco, Africa, and had to leave his new bride behind for several months, but eventually she was able to courageously join him overseas. They lived off the base in the village with the locals and had many interesting adventures while in Morocco, including the discovery on what was supposed to be the beginning of a European holiday, that Lois was too sick to travel. That discovery ended up becoming their daughter, Maureen!
During their 5th year of marriage, by now stationed on the island of Guam, Lois was able to convince Leo to attend one of the meetings of an evangelistic series at her church. He occasionally enjoyed the radio sermons of H.M.S. Richards, SR, who she explained was from the same faith. Capitalizing on his interest in history, she invited him to the lecture on prophecy and the falling stars in 1833. He was hooked, and with further studies into Biblical truths, he was baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist church at the end of the series. Not long afterwards he felt impressed to leave the Navy to become trained in the ministry and eventually become a Navy Chaplain to lead other servicemen to Christ.
The Lord had other plans for Leo and Lois. Leo did complete his Theology degree at Atlantic Union College, and while there, their son Tim was born. In 1957, Leo was assigned as an intern to their first church district -the Boston Temple and Everett churches. They then went to Andrews University Theological Seminary in Michigan to obtain his Master’s of Divinity degree. By this time Maureen was 8 years old and Tim was 3. Leo also worked full time as an electronics technician and Lois kept teacher’s children in their home to try to cover expenses.
After attending the Seminary, they were hired by the Southern New England Conference as Assistant Pastor for the Providence, Wickford, and Burrillville churches in Rhode Island under Elders James Haywood, then Jack Clarke. While preaching in the Wickford church in April of 1962, Leo suffered a stroke from a cerebral aneurysm at the age of only 32. This was a life changing event with a long, but miraculous recovery that God would use to redirect his ministry. A year after his stroke, Leo recovered enough to pastor his own churches in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and Canaan, Ct, for 3 years. Lois’s talent was for children’s ministries, and she especially enjoyed leading the Kindergarten Sabbath School. It was there that Leo discovered that due to his stroke, his dream of reentering the military as a chaplain would not be realized, and wondered what other plan God could have for him.
In 1965 the family was transferred again, this time to Connecticut where they pastored at the Plainville, Middletown, and Meriden churches. Leo was ordained as a fully credentialed Minister in 1966. Then, in 1968, Leo received a call from Chaplain Walter Kloss to become his associate hospital chaplain at New England Memorial Hospital in Stoneham. Now Leo & Lois knew how God would use his illness to minister to others in a unique way.
During his ministry to countless patients, families and church members, Leo was also a leader in obtaining and instructing Certification in Clinical Pastoral Education in New England and served as President of the Adventist Association of Chaplains. He remains an adjunct professor for Atlantic Union College off-campus classes. He also received his Clinical Social Worker’s License. Lois worked per diem at NEMH and again nurtured children in her home to assist with Maureen & Tim’s Adventist school tuition. In 1990 Leo had cardiac bypass surgery, and 2 years later he retired from then named Boston Regional Medical Center after nearly 25 years of Chaplaincy. But he didn’t quit working! Instead he answered a need in Williamsburg, Virginia, for a temporary Chaplain at the Eastern State Psychiatric Hospital for a year. Upon returning to Stoneham, he became a per diem family counselor under Dr. Mirna Aeschlimann’s Pediatric practice and was also requested by the local Protestant Ministerial Association to become the part-time Chaplain at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital; a position he has continued to hold for the past 15 years.
Throughout Leo’s ministry, he has performed many baptisms, weddings, funerals, and baby dedications, as well as pastoral counseling, prayers, Bible Study, and preaching, for both the Adventist and non-Adventist communities. By his side, Lois has consistently used her gifts of empathy and encouragement for shut-ins and others needing visitation or assistance, and joyfully caring for her children, grandchildren, and now great-grandsons, Dean & Luke. In every place of ministry they have been blessed and supported by so many loving friends and gratefully acknowledge how God has led them each amazing step of the way.